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Tribute to JoAnn Scott

La Leche League Leader, Mentor, Friend and Founder of the International Board of Lactation Consultant Examiners


Pam Dunne
Richmond VA USA
From: LEAVEN, Vol. 43 No. 1, January-February-March 2007, p. 15

On September 18, 2006, La Leche League and the International Board of Lactation Consultant Examiners (IBLCE) lost a strong ambassador of breastfeeding -- JoAnne Scott. A Leader of 31 years and the founding Executive Director of the IBLCE for over 20 years, JoAnne Scott, 63 years old, died after a valiant fight with breast cancer. Her family was by her side as she passed from this life.

JoAnne first came to La Leche League in 1973. Despite the many books she'd read on breastfeeding, her attempts to do so with her first child were unsuccessful. Five years later when she became pregnant again, she decided to seek help, information, and support from a local La Leche League Leader. Early challenges were overcome and she went on to enjoy a long and happy breastfeeding relationship with her daughter.

In 1975, JoAnne was accredited as a La Leche League Leader and in the spring of 1976, we started the first Annandale, Virginia, USA La Leche League Group. In the next four years as the Group grew and we mentored new Leaders, it split into three Annandale Groups. In 1978, JoAnne and I began teaching breastfeeding classes at Fairfax Hospital. At that time, Fairfax Hospital's birth rate was 6,000 plus a year. Each month over 100 to 150 couples would attend the classes we offered as volunteers. The expectant parents now had a face to put with La Leche League and, after attending our class, many left with their own personal copy of THE WOMANLY ART OF BREASTFEEDING. In 1980, JoAnne became the Area Coordinator of Leaders for LLL of Virginia.

In 1982, as an increasing number of individuals were taking their mother support skills into the professional arena to work as lactation specialists, there was concern that there was no quality assurance for mothers. Judy Good, with strong support from Jan Riordan and Chele Marmet, encouraged the LLLI Board of Directors to establish a "Lactation Consultant Department" with JoAnne Scott as Director. JoAnne, working with breastfeeding advocates from around the world, strived to address this issue and to develop competency standards for this newly emerging health field. Over the next two-and-a-half years, JoAnne researched credentialing, exams, educational programs, and professional regulation.

At a meeting in June 1984 of the LLLI Lactation Consultant Department, it was decided that an independent examining body -- separate from LLLI -- should be set up to administer a certification program. Certification was proposed as the way to ensure these standards and to enable consumers to identify experts in the art and science of lactation management. A loan of $40,000 from LLLI was used to handle administrative costs. In 1985, after three years of intensive work, the first International Board Certified Lactation Consultant exam was offered at two sites -- Washington DC, USA and Melbourne, Australia. Under JoAnne's guidance, the IBLCE is the world's first truly international certification program in the health field. Today there are approximately 16,000 International Board Certified Lactation Consultants (IBCLCs) in 69 countries across five continents.

As written by Ros Escott, IBLCE, Assistant Executive Director for International Operations, in JoAnne's obituary:

How can one achieve such an enormous task? JoAnne had a strong vision for the benefit of others, the right mix of head and heart, team spirit and hard work, continuously inspiring others with her enthusiasm. Her philosophy: "As comprehensive as possible -- as specific as needed," enabled an international standard which was flexible enough to accommodate different cultures and needs. She was an enthusiastic traveller, exploring cultures and presenting papers all over the world.

She was a founding member of the International Lactation Consultant Association, served on the Board of Directors, National Organization for Competency Assurance, Washington DC 1992-1997 and as a Commissioner, National Commission for Certifying Agencies, Washington DC, 2001-2003. In May 2006, after presenting a paper on Ethics in Maastricht, in the Netherlands, she was made an Honorary Life Member of the European Lactation Consultant Association.

At the July 2005 LLLI Conference in Washington DC, JoAnne was recognized for her work in breastfeeding education. She was presented with the LLLI Award of Achievement for her many years of service as the Executive Director of the International Board of Lactation Consultant Examiners.

JoAnne completed her BA at Hanover College, Indiana, USA and her MA at the University of Virginia, USA. Sweethearts since they were 17 years of age, JoAnne and Doug Scott celebrated their 40th wedding anniversary on September 10, 2005. They had two children, Christopher and Cordia. Christopher and his wife, Susan, a La Leche League Leader, are the parents of JoAnne's four precious grandchildren -- Joseph, Justin and Henry (twins), and Christine. They live in Baltimore, Maryland, USA. In November 2005, to JoAnne's delight, she danced at the wedding of her daughter, Cordia, to Brian Hennaman. Her death has left a huge hole in their hearts.

JoAnne co-led her last La Leche League meeting on August 10, 2006. As always, her sharing of breastfeeding information with the new mothers was informative and empowering. She will be greatly missed by all of us who have known her and benefited from her wealth of breastfeeding knowledge and her ability to share this information in a caring manner. JoAnne's legacy of breastfeeding education will live on through her years with La Leche League and the International Board of Lactation Consultant Examiners.

Donations in memory of JoAnne Scott may be made to LLLI or to IBLCE. The IBLCE Board has set up the JoAnne W. Scott endowment fund to provide scholarships for mother-to-mother support counselors to be candidates for the IBLCE exam, thus combining JoAnne's two great passions. For further information and to make a donation, please visit www.milcc.org/scottscholarship.shtml.

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